Malaysian officials have debunked, claims made in the Korean media report, that claimed that South Korea made FA-50 and Chinese made JF-17 are the only two finalists left in the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s (RMAF’s) light combat aircraft/lead-in fighter trainer (LCA/LIFT) program to replace a number of its current platform types soon. RMAF insists that the evaluation is still an ongoing exercise and the air force is yet to evaluate all the proposals yet.

RMAF plans to procure up to 36 LCAs with options for 26 more, but the initial number might be only for 12 jets, while the rest are kept for follow-on orders. RMAF Team will be visiting India next month possibly to evaluate the LCA-Tejas aircraft and also check out the manufacturing facilities in India. HAL facilities in Bengaluru will be showcasing its new aircraft under development and also its Tier-II supply chain. RMAF Team might also get a tour of the airbase where the first LCA-Tejas Mk1 squadron is based.

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Delivery of S-400 air defence systems is on track and there is no delay or reluctance on part of Moscow. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev on Wednesday said, “With regard to S-400 and the agreements both sides are committed to the agreed timelines and that the obligations in this contract be successfully fulfilled, as to my knowledge.”

The United States of America has alluded that if India goes ahead with S-400 procurement, it may attract sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). India has consistently said that it acquires and purchase weapons and defence equipment keeping in view its national security interests.

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SOURCE: Press Trust of India

After assuring military equipment to Pakistan and criticising the Indo-Pacific strategy, Russia today assured India by describing it as a “trusted partner”, Russia said there were no divergences or misunderstandings between the two countries and that it has “limited cooperation” with Pakistan based on “independent” relations.

Deputy Chief of the Russian mission Roman Babushkin also welcomed the recent commitment by India and Pakistan to follow the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control and said these are “very important steps” for regional stability. However, at a joint media briefing with Mr Babushkin, Russian ambassador Nikolay Kudashev criticised the Indo-Pacific strategy by western countries describing it as “dangerous” and an effort to revive the cold war mentality.

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India’s plan to build nuclear-powered attack submarines could be bad news for China. A fleet of  nuclear attack subs – among the most lethal weapons on Earth – prowling the Indian Ocean could  threaten Beijing’s growing naval presence in the region. Or, a fleet of nuclear subs could be a boondoggle that drains India’s limited military resources. Even some Indian experts believe the Indian Navy would be better off buying cheaper diesel-electric subs more suitable for missions such as coastal defense.

All of which raises a question for emerging powers such as India, which has the seventh-largest economy on the planet. Are the prestige and capabilities of nuclear subs worth the cost?

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After about two years of tension following the Balakot air strike and revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there have been some forward movement in India-Pakistan ties in recent months. The Times of India’s Vivekanand Ojha spoke to former diplomatVivek Katju on the status of India-Pakistan bilateral ties, as well as some other important foreign policy issues.

Q: Do you think there is a Biden administration role in recent developments in India-Pak relations?
A: The letter from the Prime Minister was on the occasion of the Pakistan National Day, and while it was a letter of greetings, I would not characterise that as particularly warm. So, also, Imran Khan’s reply was not warm. As our Prime Minister laid out his concerns, Imran Khan responded with his concerns. The ceasefire agreement, or the reiteration of the ceasefire agreement by the DGMOs of India and Pakistan, was clearly a product of intense negotiations behind the scenes.

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 India has been invited to an Afghanistan peace conference in Turkey to back up the slowed down negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the Kabul government ahead of a delayed US withdrawal from that country, according to diplomatic sources.

The convening of the meeting announced at the UN and in Istanbul on Tuesday comes amid reports that US President Joe Biden would be withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, instead of the May 1 deadline set by his predecessor Donald Trump. Biden’s deadline is symbolic as it was the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack directed from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan 20 years that started the US-led invasion. Between 2,500 and 3,500 US troops remain in Afghanistan, down from about 100,000 at the height of the deployment in 2010.

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“You think of ‘unmanned’, and you think of drones, in the sky,” says 25-year-old Vibhakar Senthil. In Ambattur — widely regarded as the Detroit of India — his start-up Torus Robotics is set to change that, by making Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) for the Indian Army.

At the Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru, attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Torus Robotics signed an MOU with the Government, on the joint development of UGVs for the armed forces with BEML Limited. “With BEML, we are now developing a high-altitude Logistics UGV with 750 kilograms payload. It will be an all-terrain vehicle to supply to and from bases [without the need of human presence] in bad weather conditions, for the Northern Command,” says Vibhakar.

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The freedom of navigation manoeuvre undertaken by a US Navy warship near the Lakshadweep Islands without India’s consent last week continues to trigger debate. Experts on law and foreign policy and former Indian Navy officers have commented on the issue from multiple perspectives, with most warning of an adverse impact on ties with the US.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday gave his perspective on the incident via Twitter. Before plunging into politics, Tharoor was a veteran official of the UN, serving as under-secretary general. In a series of tweets, Tharoor noted there was “nothing” in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that supported India’s stand.

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SOURCE:  Deutsche Welle 

After almost two decades since the US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime, Washington is set to exit the country. US media reports say that President Joe Biden has decided to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

The military withdrawal will not depend on the situation on the ground — despite fears that the Taliban could make major gains, according to these reports. “The president has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever,” an official told reporters on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

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Former defence minister Christopher Pyne has warned that Australia is at risk of being dragged into a war with China amid rising tensions around Taiwan. In a speech to the University of Adelaide, Mr Pyne said the likelihood of a “kinetic war” in the Indo-Pacific was today much higher than when he was appointed minister for defence industry in 2016.
“Five years ago, I would’ve said that the possibility was very unlikely, now I would have to say that the possibility is more likely than it was then,” he said yesterday.

Mr Pyne, who later moved to the defence portfolio and retired from politics in 2019, said the US and its allies, including Australia, were now facing an increasingly confident China in the Asia-Pacific region.”The reality is that China is confident and capable and is not embarrassed to show it,” he said.The former Liberal frontbencher said the Asia-Pacific risked a “real war” involving China over the next decade.”Not a cyber war, but a real one involving loss of life, destruction of military platforms, with aggressors and defenders on different sides,” Mr Pyne said.”This isn’t rhetoric, this is something that you and I may well have to confront in the next five to 10 years.”

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SOURCE: Times Now Digital

Amid spiraling tension between India and the US over the passage of America’s warship through Indian waters, Washington sought to sink differences with New Delhi, saying it values its partnership with India.

The passage of the US warship for a naval operation, through India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the Lakshadweep coast, without prior consent last week has triggered discord between the two countries with New Delhi immediately registering its opposition through diplomatic channels.

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AUnited States intelligence report has said that despite some force pullback from the Line of Actual Control, the tension between India and China remains high as China seeks to use coordinated tools to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbours to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences, including its claims over disputed territory.

“China-India border tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975. As of mid-February, after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment for some sites along the disputed border” the Annual Threat assessment of the US intelligence community, by the office of the director of the national intelligence read.

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Russia on Wednesday said it was following developments at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, and is encouraged by India and China focusing on “disengagement efforts” and promoting constructive dialogue.

Deputy Chief of the Russian mission Roman Babushkin said Russia encourages both sides to take opportunities in advancing their ties at common multilateral platforms like the BRICS, SCO and RIC trilateral grouping. “We are following developments at the LAC. We are encouraged by India and China to consider disengagement efforts in order to promote constructive and forward-looking dialogue which is a very important precondition for regional stability,” he said at a media briefing.

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“Life cannot stop, we have to move on,” said Ramesh Mehra, the owner of popular food joint Krishna Dhaba here, on Tuesday as he returned to work nearly two months after his son was shot dead by militants. Mehra’s world came crashing down on February 17 when his son, Akash, was shot at by militants from a close range. After fighting for his life for 10 days, Akash died at SMHS Hospital here on February 28.

Known for serving vegetarian food and equally popular among locals and tourists, Krishna Dhaba had been closed since February 17. As Mehra returned to work alone on Tuesday, he was welcomed by other business owners. Asked if it feels safe to resume business in Kashmir, Mehra told PTI, “We have always felt safe here… Such things happen here with other people too.”

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A soldier was injured when a bullet hit him at the Line of Control (LoC) in the frontier district of Kupwara late Tuesday night, official sources said. They said a sentry in a forward post noticed some suspicious movement and opened warning shots last night. A soldier identified as Jasvir Singh posted at Anil Post at LoC sustained bullet injuries. Singh was airlifted and admitted to 92 Army Base hospital in Srinagar.

They said it was not immediately clear how the soldier sustained bullet injuries. India and Pakistani troops are maintaining strict ceasefire at LoC and International Border (IB) with effect from midnight of February 24 and 25 after flag meeting.

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